Factors Affecting Antique Tool Values

Terry Hurley
Learn more about antique hand tools

Whether you have antique tools to sell, are adding to a collection or love the feel of working with antique tools, knowing how to determine an antique tool's value is essential.

Four Criteria That Impact the Value of an Antique Tool

The value of antique tools, like the value of all antiques and collectibles, vary greatly based on four main criteria.

1. Rarity

The rarity of an antique tool has a great effect on the tool's value. Two examples of rare Stanley planes are the #12 3/4 and the #212. Collectors should be aware that there are forgeries of many rare tools. To learn more about spotting forgeries and reproductions of antique tools, visit Blood and Gore by Patrick Leach.

2. Condition

A tool's rarity and its condition are often interrelated. The condition of an antique tool affects its value regardless of the rarity of the tool. For example, a tool that is rare and in very poor condition is generally not going to be as valuable as a common tool in excellent condition.

An excellent resource used by many antique tool collectors to determine the condition of a tool is the The Fine Tool Journal Classification System. This system has a list of criteria that classifies a tool into one of seven categories ranging from ''new'' to poor. Tool Timer provides a copy of this system within the article A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Antique Tools from Union Hill Antiques Tools.

3. Desirability or Demand

It is often said in the world of antiques that each piece has four distinct values.

  • The price the owner thinks it is worth.
  • The price the buyer would like to pay.
  • The price listed in a Price Guide
  • The actual selling price

Antique tool sellers know that the tool has to be something a buyer wants to collect. The selling price of a tool may not be as much as the listed book value if it is not desirable or in demand.

4. Provenance

Knowing the history of ownership, or provenance, of an antique tool often adds monetary value to the item especially if the tool belonged to an early craftsman or other known personality. Initials, or a person's name, on an antique tool also adds value. In the case of most antiques, such as dinnerware or silver, a monogram or a name usually lowers the value of the piece.

Find Out the Value of Your Antique Tools

Although collecting antique tools is an interesting and enjoyable hobby, being aware of the factors that affect an antique tool's value makes it even more rewarding. See Price Guide to Antique Tools for resources that can help you determine how much particular items are worth.

Factors Affecting Antique Tool Values